Early American Benjamin Harbeson Copper Kettle

Value (2007) | $5,000 Auction

I was watching a cooking show, and I saw a bunch of different copper in the kitchen, and I thought it was really pretty, and my husband said, "I think that I have a copper tea kettle from Grandma's stuff in the garage." So, he brought it in and put it on the stove, and the following morning, my little seven-year-old-- she was curious, and came up to it and was looking at it. And she goes, "Mama, there's something in it." And I opened it up, and it was a newspaper with a similar tea kettle, giving it a value, a time period and a name.

It's a great example of Early American copper. I see a lot of this on the market, but most of it is not marked. We see Early American, 1750s through 1800, copperware come to the market, but when it's not marked, it doesn't bring a lot of money. A few hundred dollars at an auction. And the mark, which is right here-- this is the mark of

Benjamin Harbeson, and he was a Philadelphia artisan that worked in copper, and I had a moment to look up in a reference here that one of his advertisements said that he marked every piece. That he basically was saying that he stood behind what he made, which is a great statement. But there aren't many that come to the market for a man that marked every piece.


We don't see many of these. One famous one ended up in a Philadelphia museum. Condition's another thing that we look at. This finial here I believe has been replaced. You can see the screw here and the washer. This looks like, over time, it's had a little roughness there, and it's cracked. You can see a little cracking. But that's really fine, because the marking and the handle and everything is still intact. I'd like to point out, also, that on the underside, this early copperware... Some wonderful dovetailing done here, and they solder this together, and they used snips and create these dovetails and assemble this piece. You know, today, they don't do that sort of work. This also has a little bit of style and design. I like this little serpent's head...


So it's a lot of fun. It's a wonderful piece and a wonderful example of Early American copper work. So, do you have any idea what it might be worth today?

Well, the periodical from 1980 valued one at auction for $3,200. When my grandmother passed, they told us there was not a market for copper anymore, so we acquired quite a bit of copper, and, consequently, it just sat stagnant. So, given that information from that auctioneer, I don't know. I was hoping, like, maybe $1,000.

Well, some of this has gone down in price, some has gone up, and this is one of the ones that have gone up. I think this would bring closer, at auction, to $5,000 in today's market. So, hopefully, your daughter plays nicely with it in the future.

I'll buy her her own teapot.

All right. Thank you for coming in.

Thank you very much.

Appraisal Details

DuMouchelles Gallery
Detroit, MI
Appraised value (2007)
$5,000 Auction
Louisville, KY (July 28, 2007)
18th Century

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